Government says decision on Waterford Airport's future will be made in July

The Government has said a decision on Waterford Airport's future will be made in July but warned securing a commercial carrier for the facility is vital.

Transport Minister Shane Ross met with Waterford's TDs and local authority chiefs to update them on the future of the airport, which has been without a commercial carrier since mid-2016.

It has been a year since stakeholders submitted a proposal to extend the runway, which it says would considerably enhance the airport’s commercial appeal and attract new carriers.

The proposal requests €5m from the Government, which will be matched by €5m from investors and €2m from local authorities in the south-east.

Mr Ross told stakeholders he believed the application has merit but that there he had concerns about its ability to secure a carrier. A decision will be made in July, he said.

Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler said: "To be fair to Mr Ross, the proposal has not been gathering dust and he is taking it seriously. But a decision has to be made in July and cannot be kicked down the road any longer. It is languishing for far too long."

However, WIT School of Business lecturer Ray Griffin blasted the July deadline.

"It is hard to believe it has taken the Minister, his Department and his Government a year to decide that they need more time to make what is a relatively straightforward commercial decision -- this is the very definition of being slow-witted," Mr Griffin said.

He said regions rather than airport companies are the beneficiaries of the economic stimulus that an airport can bring, and the proposal sitting with the Government represents a proportional investment by all the stakeholders.

"The commercial and municipal forces in the region have put their money where their mouth is, and they have been left hanging while this Government cogitate as to whether they will deliver on their promise in the programme for government," he said.

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